State of Georgia looks to Israel for solutions to energy and water challenges

'The climate is similar to the US Southeast, so the technologies could be adaptable.'

Water 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Water 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel's track record of success and a similar climate brought a delegation from the US state of Georgia here last week to get a look at local cleantech and greentech firms. Representing private companies, public utilities and government officials, the nine officials traveled all over the country looking for ways to integrate Israeli technology into their organizations. According to executives of a major water company based in Georgia, the US will overhaul its water infrastructure in the next 10 to 15 years. So the company has begun looking ahead to see how it can position itself with the most attractive line of products, including some blue-and-white ones. Among their many stops, the delegation met with the Israel Newtech team at the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry. Israel Newtech is an umbrella organization for Israeli water and renewable energy companies interested in contracts abroad. The group was brought here by the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast Region, which has developed strong ties between the Georgia business community and Israel. The group was well prepared ahead of time, Ervan Hancock III told The Jerusalem Post. Hancock is manager, renewable and green strategies, for Georgia Power, one of the biggest utilities in the southeast, which expects to grow 40% over the next 10 years, he said. "The climate [in Israel] is similar to the southeast and so the technologies could be adaptable," he said. Hancock was mainly interested in renewable energy and products which increased energy efficiency, he said. The company is looking to increase and diversify its portfolio of energy sources to meet demand. To that end, the company is looking at wind, water, solar, biomass and nuclear energy. Part of a power company's role in the US was to help its customers make the most of their energy, he said. His company offers energy audits and consulting to help reduce the stress on the grid or distribute it more evenly. While new technologies were interesting, Hancock was intrigued by a company called Metrolight which made an existing product more efficient. "The company increases the efficiency of high intensity commercial lighting. It's unique in that it's not a new widget. "High intensity commercial lighting is 22 percent of global lighting and they are trying to make it more efficient. It's been our experience that the customer adoption rate is much faster when a known product is made more efficient. It's easier than introducing an entirely new product and breaking down market barriers," he said. Ben Taube is also interested in energy innovation and integrating Israeli products into US applications. Taube is the executive director of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance. The alliance, comprised of public and private interests, attempts to increase efficiency across 11 southeast states. The organization provides research, policy papers, and lobbies on behalf of greater efficiency. Taube said the group had achieved quite a few successes, including convincing the utilities to look at energy efficiency. Taube said he'd seen many interesting technologies here, especially in solar thermal and wind energy. Environmental consciousness was not mainstream amongst US companies, Taube added. "There's quite a ways to go yet. Energy is pretty cheap in the southeast so energy efficiency is not as cost effective. I do think cost is one of the larger drivers on the front end, but environmental impact also plays a role," he told the Post.